The Crumbs of Cool Reading

Books abandoned part way through


*The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard. September 2010. Abandoned after about 1/3rd. Old sci-fi novel about the world after a severe global warming event. I was curious how Ballard would imagine the new world in light of the real global warming occuring, he wrote it in 1962 before the theory had really become known. The story itself is somewhat slow and Ballard's concept, that humans were regressing back to dinosaurs, is silly.

*The Count of Monte Cristo. August 2010. I stopped about half way through (after the runaway horse incident in Paris), after about 600 pages(!). The first 20 chapters or so are spectacularly good, in particular the prison scenes. Even the origin story of Vampa the Roman bandit is great fun. Then it moves to Paris and slows down as Dumas un-dresses layers of deception about who knows who, and who knows what. The novel is at its best as an adventure/escape story in the beginning but unravels into a sprawling proto "sensation novel", forerunner of the mystery novel, which I really don't like. I admit to missing the dramatic "One", "Two", etc. as Dantes takes down his enemies, otherwise I was able to complete the plot by reading the Classics Illustrated comic. I'm disappointed as I really wanted to like the novel, and I did at first, it was not abandoned lightly. Of the parts I did read, the 1888 Routledge illustrated edition is great. The translation is pretty close to the same used in modern editions, and the rich letter press fonts are a delight, but the best are the hundreds of lithograph illustrations on almost every other page which bring the period and story to life.

*Mr. Midshipman Easy. June 2010. Abandoned at Chapter 17 of 41. Actually not bad for 1834, but somewhat long picaresque novel on the high seas. I'd probably finish it if it wasn't so long, but as a picaresque novel I get the style and flavor of it, but have too many other things to read right now.

* Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, And My Life in Ink. May 2009. Abandoned page 131 of 249 (52% complete). Authors sincerity and credibility questionable. Too much bragging, too many "too good to be true" stories, too many old stories of a dangerous youth that had nothing to do with tattooing. An entire chapter on a rather boring car accident. Fairly well written though.

* The Astonishing Life of Octavia Nothing: Part 1. December 2008. Abandoned page 170 of 351. Pretends to be an 18th century manuscript with a Gothic theme set in Revolutionary era-America. All three elements I am not a fan of. I respect it, but it is dark and depressing, I was looking for something lighter. The morality lessons of people as property are important but heavy handed.

* Water for Elephants. December 2008 (audiobook). Abandoned around hour 4.25 of about 12. Fairly accurate archival research but the story is derivitive and boring, genre fiction, flat characters. Since I have already read the best Circus novel ever written (Cat-Man (1956) by Edward Hoagland) this didn't hold my interest. I've since found out this novel was written in 30 days(!) as part of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) - which is impressive, but 30 days for a novel, it could have been improved. I'm guessing the story and characters were done in 30, and the historical archical research added in later before publication.

* Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. October 2008. Abandonded page 85/229 (3rd of eight short stories). Writing is good but the stories are too subtle and meaningless for my taste. Just seemed pointless and boring.

* Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presely. September 2008. Abandoned on page 220 of 488. I got what I wanted, a history of Elvis before he became famous, his early family life. His professional career is less interesting for me.

* Penguin Island. September 2008. I only read the first 177 of 324 pages - I'm not a huge fan of old satires when the historical context is unclear, I'm reading the words but not really understanding, it's an in-joke with me on the outside. The first half was a lot of fun because I knew European history enough to understand the allegories and allusions, the later part goes off into 19th century French politics which is hugely confusing and obscure.